|Publication number||US7952466 B2|
|Application number||US 11/548,489|
|Publication date||May 31, 2011|
|Filing date||Oct 11, 2006|
|Priority date||Oct 11, 2006|
|Also published as||US20080106385, WO2008043668A2, WO2008043668A3|
|Publication number||11548489, 548489, US 7952466 B2, US 7952466B2, US-B2-7952466, US7952466 B2, US7952466B2|
|Inventors||Edward E. Kelley, Franco Motika|
|Original Assignee||International Business Machines Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (31), Referenced by (2), Classifications (9), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and, more particularly, to a method and system for protecting RFID tags on purchased goods.
The use of radio frequency identification (RFID) devices in the retail industry has started to become wide spread as retailers have realized the potential of these small and inexpensive devices. An RFID tag, which can be placed onto a product offered for sale, can permit the retailer to automatically track movement of the product, perform automatic check-out of the customer (including instant debiting of the customer's account), automatic inventory control, locating misplaced product, and so forth. The use of such RFID devices can also provide the retailers with information regarding the customers themselves, such as their purchasing habits, their movement patterns through the retail store, and so on.
RFID devices that are implanted onto products (commonly referred to as RFID tags) are typically powerless radios (although in some applications, the RFID tags can have an external power source, such as a battery for example) with a small amount of memory and perhaps a controller or a processor. The RFID tags receive power only when they are energized by RF signals from a RFID reader. In this type of device, a rectifier coupled to an antenna in the RFID tag converts energy in the RF signals into electrical energy to power the RFID tag. Once powered, the RFID tag can respond to probes from the RFID reader and thereafter provide information stored in its memory or execute instructions provided by the RFID reader.
The foregoing discussed drawbacks and deficiencies of the prior art are overcome or alleviated by, in an exemplary embodiment, a method for controlling access to data contained within a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag associated with an item, including reading the RFID tag; receiving a first value from a personal communication device associated with a purchaser of the item; creating a key using the first value received from the personal communication device and a second value associated with the item; and initially transmitting the key to both the RFID tag and the personal communication device. The RFID tag is configured to automatically program one or more electrically programmable fuse devices therein so as to prevent subsequent reading of data therein by an RFID reading device, upon successful receipt of a valid key initially transmitted thereto. The RFID tag is further configured to automatically program one or more additional fuse devices therein so as to restore read access to the data therein, upon successful receipt of a valid key subsequently transmitted thereto.
In another embodiment, a method for disabling access to data contained within a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag associated with an item includes reading the RFID tag; receiving a first value from a personal communication device associated with a purchaser of the item; creating an encrypted key using the first value received from the personal communication device and a second value associated with the item; and initially transmitting the key to both the RFID tag and the personal communication device; wherein the RFID tag is configured to automatically program one or more electrically programmable fuse devices therein so as to prevent subsequent reading of data therein by an RFID reading device, upon receipt of a valid key initially transmitted thereto.
In another embodiment, a method for restoring access to data contained within a disabled radio frequency identification (RFID) tag associated with an item includes selecting the disabled RFID tag from a list of one or more disabled RFID tags stored on a personal communication device; accessing an encrypted key stored on the personal communication device, the encrypted key associated with the selected disabled RFID tag; and transmitting the encrypted key to the disabled RFID tag; wherein the RFID tag is configured to automatically program one or more electrically programmable fuse devices therein so as to restore read access to the data therein upon a match between the encrypted key transmitted by the personal communication device and a stored key within the RFID tag.
In still another embodiment, a system for selectively enabling and disabling access to data contained within a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag associated with an item an RFID reading device in communication with a point of sale (POS) computing device; the POS computing device configured to receive a first value sent from a personal communication device associated with a purchaser of the item, and to create a key using the first value received from the personal communication device and using a second value associated with the item; the POS computing device further configured to transmit the key to both the RFID tag and the personal communication device; wherein the RFID tag is configured to automatically program one or more electrically programmable fuse devices therein so as to prevent subsequent reading of data therein by an RFID reading device, upon receipt of a valid key initially transmitted thereto; and wherein the RFID tag is further configured to automatically program one or more additional fuse devices therein so as to restore read access to the data therein, upon receipt of a valid key subsequently transmitted thereto.
Referring to the exemplary drawings wherein like elements are numbered alike in the several Figures:
Disclosed herein is a method and system of selectively disabling and subsequently restoring the ability to read data stored on an RFID tag, wherein the tag is configured with a self-programmable fuse technology that makes and breaks electrical connections within the device. Although the disabling action renders the RFID tag unreadable, it does not destroy the data itself. Therefore, a purchaser of an RFID item has the additional capability of subsequently rendering the RFID tag readable again through successful implementation of a restore operation.
Briefly stated, an encrypted “disable” key is sent to an RFID tag located on an RFID item at the time of purchase, wherein the key is a combination of values; one associated with the item itself, and another associated with a customer's personal communication device. This disable key is also sent to and stored within the user's device. If the portion of the disable key corresponding to the RFID item matches the value stored in the RFID tag, then a fuse is automatically blown in a portion of the RFID circuit used to store the information about the purchased item.
This may be implemented using, for example, electrically programmable (eFuse) technology developed by IBM. This technology utilizes a combination of unique software algorithms and microscopic electrical fuses to help chips regulate and adapt to changing conditions and system demands by adjusting their circuitry. Particularly, an eFuse device may be programmed by passing a sufficient current through the structure such that its resistance is significantly altered from its initially fabricated state.
The use of an encrypted disable value also protects the seller from a third party sending a rogue disable value to render the RFID tag unreadable prior to purchasing of the item containing the RFID tag. In addition, the exemplary system and method described hereinafter further provides the capability of restoring the readability of the RFID tag information in the event a valid item return/exchange is to take place. The customer uses the personal communication device to send the stored encrypted key information back to the RFID tag, wherein another electrically programmable fuse (or antifuse) device is blown (i.e., programmed) in another portion of the RFID circuit so as to once again provide access to the RFID data stored in the tag.
Referring initially to
As further illustrated in
Referring now to
This first unique value is used by the POS computing device 110 recording the sale to create an encrypted key that consists of two parts. The first part of the key is a second unique value corresponding to the RFID item 104 to be purchased, which may retrieved from a database by the computer registering the sale. The second part the encrypted key is the first unique value received from the purchaser's personal communication device 114. In an exemplary embodiment, the POS computing device 110 concatenates the two unique values and encrypts them to create the key, as shown in block 208. Then, in block 210, the encrypted key is sent from the POS computing device 110 to both the customer's personal communication device 114 and the RFID tag 106.
Referring specifically now to
On the other hand, if there is a match, then the combined concatenated value will be stored in the RFID tag 106, and software stored within the tag 106 will the initiate the programmable fuse technology (e.g., eFuse) associated therewith to disable the RFID tag so as to render the data therein unreadable by any RFID reading device, as shown in block 216. For example, the RFID tag software may initiate a self-reprogramming sequence in which one or more fuses within in the tag 106 are blown so as to cut off access to the data stored therein. However, the data itself is not erased or destroyed by this process. Finally, decision block 218 reflects whether there are additional RFID items to be read and disabled. If not, the process ends at that point; otherwise, the method returns back to block 202 in
As indicated above, the disabling of the RFID tag 106 during a purchase transaction prevents unauthorized reading of the tag data by a third party possessing RFID reading equipment. However, as also indicated above, it may become desirable (at the purchaser's discretion) to render the RFID tag 106 readable again. Thus,
As specifically shown in
Referring specifically now to
However, if a match does exist, then the process 300 proceeds to block 316 where the readability is automatically restored by the RFID tag 106. In the exemplary embodiment of eFuse technology described above, this may be accomplished through software initiated blowing of an additional fuse(s) or antifuse(s) within the tag 106 that restores access to the RFID data. Finally, decision block 318 reflects whether there are additional RFID items to be restored. If not, the process ends at that point; otherwise, the method returns back to block 302 in
In view of the above, the present method embodiments may therefore take the form of computer or controller implemented processes and apparatuses for practicing those processes. The disclosure can also be embodied in the form of computer program code containing instructions embodied in tangible media, such as floppy diskettes, CD-ROMs, hard drives, or any other computer-readable storage medium, wherein, when the computer program code is loaded into and executed by a computer or controller, the computer becomes an apparatus for practicing the invention.
While the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment or embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||340/10.3, 455/41.2, 340/572.3, 340/572.8|
|Cooperative Classification||G06Q30/06, G06Q20/20|
|European Classification||G06Q30/06, G06Q20/20|
|Oct 27, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, NEW Y
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KELLEY, EDWARD E.;MOTIKA, FRANCO;REEL/FRAME:018445/0154
Effective date: 20061009
|Jan 9, 2015||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|May 31, 2015||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Jul 21, 2015||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20150531